Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mormons: we're just like you (except for how we hate The Gay)

So, I've been hearing about these new ads the Mormon church is running. The idea is to profile "normal" looking people and then right at the end say "oh, and I'm Mormon." Apparently the church thought this was necessary because many Americans have a low opinion of the church. Mormon leadership chalks this up to the prevalence of TV programming and news coverage that focuses on polygamist sects.

The thing is, I think most Americans get that the polygamist groups are now officially not recognized by the church. But that's totally beside the point. First, the modern-day polygamist sects are a reminder that back in the day when they could get away with it, they were all polygamists. Women were taught to put up with it and shut the fuck up if they wished to enjoy eternal bliss in the afterlife. It was only when pressure from the larger culture and the government became too strong that the church received a new "inspiration from God" saying that polygamy wasn't cool anymore. And the same is true with the role of Blacks in the church.

In fact, the Mormon church provides a great object lesson in privilege. It was all white males who founded and led the church, so of course all their teachings and practices benefited white males. Over the years they've been forced to make concessions to various non-male non-white groups, but you don't get a cookie for doing the right thing only after you've been forced to do it. So no matter how hard the church tries to distance themselves from these groups, the polygamist sects serve as a living reminder of church history.

And of course, the other thing that leaves so many Americans with a low opinion of the Mormon church is their role in buying ultra-conservative and anti-gay election results. Hatefulness backed by the economic resources to enable you to force your beliefs on everyone else is a lethal combination. And it tends to make people despise you, not respect you. So all of this makes me laugh a cynical, bitter laugh when I see these ads. If they really wanted to be honest they should say "My name is _________ and I'm a normal person just like you, only I'm Mormon so I hate The Gay and want to force everyone to live my lifestyle." At least it would be honest.


  1. Anonymous8/12/2010

    OK, I tend to totally agree with you. Except...I've known a few Mormons who seem to be very active in the church and all that, but they don't support the church's actions and policies concerning gay people, women's roles, etc. I just don't think we can assume that identifying as Mormon also means personally endorsing all the beliefs and practices of the church as a whole.

  2. Sure, I'll give you that. But first, if you make an ad that's intended to recruit people to an organization, you better be on board with all the practices of that organization. It's one thing to be a sort of conflicted person who loves the institution and thinks it's worth it to stick around and try to change it for the better. But it's a whole other thing to be making ads for the same institution in a totally uncritical way. I mean, you either share those views or you've got a whole lotta bad faith going on, right?

    And second, I assume these people tithe? And I also assume they know what this money is used for by the church. Knowingly giving your money to a group that uses that money to promote bigotry while also claiming that you don't personally share these bigoted views is unmitigated hypocrisy. In my view anyway.

  3. GreenestEye8/12/2010

    Yeah, I grew up in the Catholic church, and I feel the same way. My sister still belongs to the church, and I just can't understand how she can give her money to a group that engages in such despicable things.

  4. Cinnamon8/12/2010

    I saw one of these ads on tv, and the whole time I was like "what is this an ad for?!?" It holds your interest until the end just because you're trying to guess what it's advertising.

  5. Yeah, I can't get past the tithing thing. You can't get around the fact that you're financially supporting an institution with deplorable practices. It's as simple as that.

  6. Shanigan8/12/2010

    Then there's this savory morsel:

    "Do you uphold your husband before God as your lord? "What!—my husband to be my lord?" I ask, Can you get into the celestial kingdom without him? Have any of you been there? You will remember that you never got into the celestial kingdom without the aid of your husband. If you did, it was because your husband was away, and some one had to act proxy for him. No woman will get into the celestial kingdom, except her husband receives her, if she is worthy to have a husband; and if not, somebody will receive her as a servant."

    - Erastus Snow, Journal Of Discourses, Vol. 5 pg. 291

  7. Ooohhhhh. I never thought about it from that angle. I think Mormons have to oppose gay marriage because it would no longer be clear how you get into the upper levels of heaven, right?

  8. I know this is going to sound terrible but any Black person that joins that faith has got to be delusional. I mean really? This woman is talking about how important it is to know your history and then she is ignoring the history of racism engaged in by the Mormon Church. Why do these bigoted groups always manage to find members of the marginalized community that they oppress to put a positive spin on them?

  9. Renee,

    Seriously - I think that's why I picked this ad to include in this post. I watched about four of them, but this one is so significant for all the historical implications involved. This strategy seems like just another version of "but I have Black friends."

  10. I really wonder about people who see how messed up the things that their church supports are (Mormons, Roman Catholics and Fundamentalist Christians are the most egregious examples), yet still support that organization with their money and time. I've known many Catholics who had gay friends, supported gay rights, had had abortions and were pro-choice, but didn't see how giving money to their catholic church was supporting stripping gays and women of their rights. Most of them were 'cradle Catholics' and I swear, they drank the kool-aid too much as a child. In other areas of their life, they were rational, but they couldn't see the problem with the church. It boggles my mind.

  11. Anonymous8/14/2010


    I always notice that too and it's impossible to combat. There must be things that all of us are just sort of willfully irrational about, but for some reason we can't see it even when it's pointed out to us.

  12. Actually, there's quite a few gay mormons in Utah who are fighting for gay rights:

  13. MelbaToast8/17/2010


    But I don't think that changes the fact that you're giving time, money, and your personal stamp of approval to an institution like a church by continuing to be a member of it. If your own church is fighting against your rights, what good does all your political advocacy really do?

  14. I still think it's admirable that they're trying to change their religious institution. But that's just me.